Ron Fanfair
Cricket Canada has a new family member. Newfoundland & Labrador (NL) – Canada’s easternmost province – became the national sports body’s 10th affiliate at its annual general meeting in Richmond, British Columbia. The island and the mainland province were also the 10th and last to enter the Canadian Confederation 63 years ago.

The St. John’s Club in Newfoundland is one of Canada’s earliest cricket clubs, having being established in the mid-1820s. The game, however, lagged behind the other provinces until two years ago when they entered the Atlantic Twenty/20 Cup tournament in New Brunswick.

With two New Brunswick scholars completing NL’s 11-member team roster, the province lost its matches to New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. However, the enthusiasm shown by the players was sufficient to inspire the formation of a provincial body.

England-born David Liverman, who has been resident in Newfoundland for the past 25 years, credits another Englishman with the sport’s revival in the province.

Liam Herringshaw arrived in Newfoundland in January 2009 to pursue a post-doctoral Fellowship project investigating the interactions between bioturbating organisms and sediments and the effects of bioturbation on petroleum products. He also had an interest in cricket and pulled together a few people to play the sport.

“There was no organized cricket here up until then,” said Liverman, who has also written on the game for various publications. “Students attending Memorial University, however, played soft ball recreationally in public parks.”

With former Cricket Canada chief executive officer, Atul Ahuja, donating a Flicx portable cricket pitch, the province hosted its first summer league tournament last year at Fieldian Grounds.

Players were assigned to three teams for the two-month competition.

“We did not want all the good players to be on one side,” said Liverman who is the vice-president of Cricket NL. “Players were grouped with teams so we could attain a good cultural mix and fair balance.”

In last year’s Atlantic Twenty/20 Cup series in Halifax, NL rebounded from a 61-run defeat to Nova Scotia to upset PEI by 10 runs and New Brunswick by six wickets. The wins marked the first time that NL had achieved success on the cricket field in almost 19 decades.

Based on the team’s improved performance, the province was encouraged to apply for entry to Cricket Canada.

Liverman said the sport, which recently received sponsorship from Tata Steel Canada, is growing in the province.

“The province is experiencing an increasing number of new immigrants from cricket-playing countries like India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh,” he said. “We have about 80 active players right now, but they are all in the St. John’s area.

“The plan is to have an outdoor season with about four or five teams. We are still trying to figure out if we should encourage players to develop clubs now or assign players to teams in the initial stages.”